Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa has found his form with Santos and isn’t sure what didn’t work during his time at Inter, but “fans keep asking me to return.”
The 22-year-old striker was a €29.5m purchase from Santos in 2016, but scored just one Serie A goal and barely featured for the club, as he struggled to adapt to Italian football.
He did no better for six months at Benfica, cut that loan spell short and returned to Brazil, where he rediscovered his mojo.
“I really liked the fans in Italy and my teammates were always very kind too. Even now on social media, fans keep asking me to return,” he told Brazilian media Tribuna.
“It’s hard to say what didn’t work. Perhaps at that moment the team needed something different to what I could give. I played very little and only scored one goal.”
Frank de Boer, who also did not last long at San Siro, bitterly criticised Gabigol for his lack of effort in training.
“I respect De Boer a great deal and he was always kind to me. I think he was just letting off steam, or perhaps the message came through distorted here in Brazil. He knows more than me, so if he said those things, it means I have to improve and I consider it constructive criticism.”
Gabigol’s loan with Santos runs to December 31, but the future beyond that is not clear.
“There’s a while to go yet, so I just want to focus on training well and doing my best for Santos. I’ll talk it over at the end of the year with my agent, my family and the club.
“I don’t have regrets over how it went with Inter, as these things happen in football. I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. I have three years on my contract with Inter, so we’ll see what happens.”